By Magnus Effiong
The Donald Duke-led ‘Cross River Southern Community Elders’ Forum, consensus meeting, which produced Sir Jarvis Archibong as its consensus candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 governorship election may have claimed its first casualty as Gov Ben Ayade, Wednesday, removed Prof Itam Hogan Itam as Paramount Ruler of Calabar South for taking part in the said meeting.
Government sources said the Monarch was sent packing for dabbling into partisan politics contrary to edicts of the Cross River state Traditional Rulers Council and that Prof Itam’s Certificate of Recognition was withdrawn with immediate effect to allow him participate fully in partisan politics.
The order convening the certificate withdrawal is contained in a letter addressed to the embattled paramount ruler dated 11th May, 2022 and signed by the Special Adviser to the governor on Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Adoga, Ifop Victor.
The letter said with this, the paramount ruler ceases to be so recognised and cannot operate as such forthwith.
Consequently, the government has directed Itam to surrender his certificates of recognition to the Department of Chieftaincy Affairs, Governor’s Office, Calabar immediately.
The letter reads “ following the report of the panel set up by the Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council (CRSTRC) and the approval of His Excellency, you have been removed as the village head, Clan head of Ukem and Paramount Ruler of Efuts with immediate effect to enable you go ahead to do your partisan politics. You have therefore ceased to be so recognised and cannot operate as such forthwith.”
Recall that the Chairman of the State Traditional Rulers Council and Paramount Ruler of Bakassi local government area, HRM Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, had warned traditional rulers against active involvement in partisan politics.
“We know that everyone is a political animal but Traditional Rulers should be isolated from partisan politics but not from politics. He should not be part of partisan politics because he is a father of all.
“Any Royal father who indulges in the game politicians play does not know his onions. We do not indulge in partisan parochial issues about consensus or any matter about their primary election.
“A traditional ruler cannot look at his four children, for instance, and say, you, go and become Manager of that multinational company and let this other one be in the village to take care of the farmland. If he does that, he would simply be igniting the fire he cannot quench,” he had stated.
Meanwhile, apart from reactions which greeted the removal of Prof Itam, unconfirmed reports say there were jubilations on the Streets of Calabar south till late Wednesday night.
In its reaction, the Efut Combined Assembly, the apex decision making body of the Efuts, presided over by Muri Munene-elect, Maurice Okon Eyo, who doubles as president, Calabar South local government Traditional Rulers Council, described the government’s decision on the Professor as apt.
A press release signed by the Secretary General of Efut Combined Assembl, Ndabu Dr Godwin Bassey, commended the Governor for promptly intervening in the matter, saying the sack of Prof Itam was a step in the right direction so as to deter further occurrence
The Combined Assembly spokesman called on all sons and daughters of Efut, both at home and the diaspora, as well as other members of the public, to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses as the people of Efut will soon present their leader to government for recognition.
Recall that the battle over the traditional throne of the Calabar South people in particular and Efuts in general had been raging since 2009 and had witnesses multiple court cases.